2008 Mountain West Conference football season

The 2008 Mountain West Conference football season was the 10th since eight former members of the Western Athletic Conference banded together to form the MW. The University of Utah won their fourth conference championship, ending the year 13-0 with a victory over Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.


2008 Mountain West Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 2 Utah $   8 0         13 0  
No. 7 TCU   7 1         11 2  
No. 25 BYU   6 2         10 3  
Air Force   5 3         8 5  
Colorado State   4 4         7 6  
UNLV   2 6         5 7  
New Mexico   2 6         4 8  
Wyoming   1 7         4 8  
San Diego State   1 7         2 10  
  • $ – Conference champion and BCS representative as top non-AQ school to meet automatic qualification criteria
Rankings from AP Poll

Statistical LeadersEdit

Max Hall BYU 330 477 3957 35 14
Brian Johnson Utah 268 394 2972 27 9
Billy Farris Colorado St 233 379 2934 19 13

Player School ATT YDS YPC TD
Gartrell Johnson Colorado St 278 1476 5.3 12
Devin Moore Wyoming 249 1301 5.2 7
Harvey Unga BYU 240 1132 4.7 11

Player School REC YDS YPC TD
Austin Collie BYU 106 1538 14.5 15
Rashaun Greer Colorado St 63 1114 17.7 3
Dennis Pitta BYU 83 1083 13.0 6

Player School SOLO AST TOTAL
Jason Beauchamp UNLV 54 73 127
Ken Lamendola Air Force 47 71 118
Matt Bauman BYU 50 58 108

Player School SACKS
Jerry Hughes TCU 15.0
Jake Paulson Air Force 9.0
Paul Kruger Utah 7.5
Herbert Felder New Mexico 7.5

Player School INT
Glover Quin New Mexico 5
Sean Smith Utah 5
Robert Johnson Utah 4

Memorable GamesEdit

August 30, 2008 • Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MichiganABC • Attendance: 108,421

Brian Johnson threw for 305 yards and a touchdown and Louie Sakoda was 4-4 on field goals as the Utes held on to beat Michigan on their home field.

September 6, 2008 • Husky StadiumSeattle, WashingtonFSN • Attendance: 64,611

In one of the year's most controversial endings, Washington quarterback Jake Locker scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with two seconds remaining, but was penalized 15 yards when he flipped the ball into the air in celebration. BYU defensive end Jan Jorgensen blocked the 35-yard extra point attempt, securing the win for the Cougars.

September 13, 2008 • Gerald J. Ford StadiumDallas, Texas • Attendance: 2,546

The Falcons' scheduled game at Houston was relocated because of Hurricane Ike, the effects of which could still very much be felt in Dallas. In high winds and intermittent rain, Air Force tallied 380 yards rushing and never attempted a pass in the victory.

September 13, 2008 • Amon G. Carter StadiumFort Worth, TexasThe Mtn • Attendance: 25,531

Across the Metroplex from the Air Force-Houston game, the Frogs' game against Stanford was moved up to the early afternoon because of Ike and was also played in less than pleasant weather conditions. TCU outlasted the Cardinal in a sloppy game, starting the Mountain West's 4-0 day against the Pac-10.

September 13, 2008 • LaVell Edwards StadiumProvo, UtahVersus • Attendance: 64,153

Max Hall tied a BYU school record by throwing for 7 touchdown passes as the Cougars easily defeated UCLA in Provo. The Cougars forced four turnovers and blocked a field goal in handing the Bruins their worst defeat in 80 years.

September 13, 2008 • University StadiumAlbuquerque, New MexicoCBS College • Attendance: 32,337

The Lobos had a little extra motivation in this one, after several Arizona players called New Mexico's 2007 win in Tucson a "fluke". Senior tailback Rodney Ferguson rushed for 158 yards to lead the attack.

September 13, 2008 • Sun Devil StadiumTempe, ArizonaFSN • Attendance: 59,852

By beating the 15th-ranked Sun Devils in their own stadium, the Rebels tallied their most impressive victory in recent memory. UNLV forced overtime by tying the game at 20 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Omar Clayton to Phillip Payne with 18 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter. Kyle Watson then kicked a 20-yard field goal on the Rebels' overtime possession, and Malo Taumua blocked Arizona State kicker Thomas Weber's 35-yard field goal attempt to secure the win.

  • #20 Utah 30, Air Force 23

September 20, 2008 • Falcon StadiumColorado Springs, ColoradoVersus • Attendance: 36,952

Utah running backs Darrell Mack and Matt Asiata both ran for more than a hundred yards, and Mack's third rushing touchdown of the day with 58 seconds remaining in the game gave the Utes the victory.

September 20, 2008 • Sam Boyd StadiumLas Vegas, NevadaThe Mtn • Attendance: 25,567

For the second consecutive week, the Rebels knocked off a team from one of the nation's elite conferences in overtime. The Cyclones had the ball first in overtime and kicked a 37-yard field goal. Then on the first play of the Rebels' possession, Omar Clayton threw his third touchdown of the game to Phillip Payne to win the game.

September 20, 2008 • Memorial StadiumNorman, OklahomaFSN • Attendance: 85,158

In one of the Horned Frogs' two defeats of the 2008 season, the Sooners jumped out to a 28-3 halftime lead to secure the victory. The Frogs, however, did hold OU to just 25 yards rushing and 35 points- the Sooners' smallest point total of the year.

October 2, 2008 • Rice-Eccles StadiumSalt Lake City, UtahVersus • Attendance: 45,559

A week to the day after the Beavers had knocked off the nation's #1 team, Southern Cal, they fell to the Utes in a Thursday-night thriller. Oregon State led late into the fourth quarter, but Utah tied the game at 28-28 with 1:29 left when Brian Johnson hit Bradon Godfrey for a 25-yard touchdown pass and then Johnson ran the ball in for a two-point conversion. The Ute defense was able to hold for a three and out, which gave them the ball back with enough time for Louie Sakoda to kick a game-winning 37-yard field goal as time expired to run their record to 6-0.

  • #24 TCU 32, #8 BYU 7

October 16, 2008 • Amon G. Carter StadiumFort Worth, TexasVersus • Attendance: 36,180

In a highly anticipated matchup of ranked MW teams, the Horned Frogs jumped out to a 23-0 halftime lead and never looked back. TCU sacked Max Hall 6 times- including 4 by All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes- and debuted their "Wild Frog" formation with wide receiver Jeremy Kerley lining up at quarterback.

  • #9 Utah 13, #11 TCU 10

November 6, 2008 • Rice-Eccles StadiumSalt Lake City, UtahCBS College • Attendance: 45,666

Coming into this Thursday-night matchup, the Frogs were 9-1 and the Utes 9-0 with the winner putting themselves in good position for a BCS Bowl bid. The Frogs led 10-0 early, but were unable to improve upon that lead. TCU freshman kicker Ross Evans missed two field goals in the fourth quarter, and Brian Johnson hit Freddie Brown for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 48 seconds remaining to give the Utes the 13-10 victory.

November 8, 2008 • Neyland StadiumKnoxville, TennesseeESPN GamePlan • Attendance: 99,489

In a defensive battle, Cowboys' linebacker Ward Dobbs returned an interception 24 yards to give Wyoming a 13-0 halftime lead. Despite a few drives into Wyoming territory in the second half, the Volunteers were only able to score 7 points. The defeat may have cost Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer his job.

  • #7 Utah 48, #14 BYU 24

November 22, 2008 • Rice-Eccles StadiumSalt Lake City, UtahThe Mtn • Attendance: 46,488

In the annual Holy War game, Utah picked off BYU quarterback Max Hall five times as the Utes claimed an outright conference championship, a BCS Bowl bid and their third undefeated regular season in school history.

Bowl GamesEdit

New Mexico BowlEdit

December 20, 2008 • University StadiumAlbuquerque, New MexicoESPN

Colorado State running back Gartrell Johnson ran for 285 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Rams' 20-point fourth quarter surge to beat Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. Johnson's 77-yard touchdown run with 1:46 remaining gave the Rams the lead for good, securing their first bowl win since 2001.

Las Vegas BowlEdit

  • Arizona 31, #16 BYU 21

December 20, 2008 • Sam Boyd StadiumLas Vegas, NevadaESPN

In the Cougars' fourth-consecutive trip to the Las Vegas Bowl, they outgained the Wildcats 444 yards to 416, but were unable to turn that offensive production into points and lost.

Poinsettia BowlEdit

December 23, 2008 • Qualcomm StadiumSan Diego, CaliforniaESPN

In a game of teams whose BCS dreams were dashed late in the season, Boise State jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but TCU running back Aaron Brown cut the lead to 13-7 with a 16-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds remaining in the first half. The Frogs took the lead for good on Joseph Turner's 17-yard touchdown run with 8:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. The win gave TCU their 3rd 11-win season in the last 4 years, and was Boise State's lone defeat of the year.

Armed Forces BowlEdit

  • Houston 34, Air Force 28

December 31, 2008 • Amon G. Carter StadiumFort Worth, TexasESPN

In a rare bowl game featuring a rematch from the regular season, the Cougars earned a season split with the Falcons with a 34-28 win. It was the Falcons' second consecutive appearance-and loss- in the Armed Forces Bowl, and was the Cougars' first bowl victory since 1980.

Sugar BowlEdit

January 2, 2009 • Louisiana SuperdomeNew Orleans, LouisianaFOX

As a result of their 12-0 regular season and Mountain West Conference title, the Utes earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl and the $17 million pay-out that comes with it. They were heavy underdogs to Alabama, the SEC team that had spent much of the year ranked number one. The Utes jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead, but the Tide had pulled to within 21-17 early in the third quarter. The Utes responded with a 7-play, 71-yard drive capped by a Brian Johnson to David Reed touchdown pass, and added a Louie Sakoda field goal late in the fourth quarter to secure the 31-17 victory. Johnson ended the game with 336 yards passing and three touchdowns, and the Ute defense sacked Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson eight times.


All Conference TeamEdit

Quarterback Brian Johnson, Sr, Utah
Running back Gartrell Johnson, Sr, Colorado State
Devin Moore, Sr, Wyoming
Wide receiver Austin Collie, Jr, BYU
Ryan Wolfe, Jr, UNLV
Tight end Dennis Pitta, Jr, BYU
Offensive Line Blake Schlueter, Sr, TCU
Ray Feinga, Sr, BYU
Dallas Reynolds, Sr, BYU
Zane Beadles, Jr, Utah
Robert Conley, Sr, Utah
Kicker Louie Sakoda, Sr, Utah
Kick Returner Jeremy Kerley, So, TCU
Defensive Line Jan Jorgensen, Jr, BYU
Jerry Hughes, Jr, TCU
Paul Kruger, So, Utah
Jake Paulson, Sr, Air Force
Linebacker Robert Henson, Sr, TCU
Jason Phillips, Sr, TCU
Ward Dobbs, Sr, Wyoming
Defensive back Glover Quin, Sr, New Mexico
Brice McCain, Sr, Utah
Stephen Hodge, Sr, TCU
Sean Smith, Jr, Utah
Punter Louie Sakoda, Sr, Utah